News you can use

If it’s pictures of lovely native plants you’re after, go to the website of the Theodore Payne Foundation, which last weekend hosted a garden tour across greater Los Angeles. However, here and now, the story is about numbers. The City of Santa Monica has updated figures comparing the water consumption, labor requirements and green waste production of two side-by-side test gardens, one stocked with native plants and irrigated by drip and the other planted with a conventional complement of lawn and shrubs and watered with sprinklers. According to the project’s landscape designer Susanne Jett, since the two gardens were planted in 2004, the native one has used 81 percent less water, required 71 percent fewer hours of labor and produced 38 percent less green waste. Extrapolate those results across LA County’s roughly 1.6 million privately owned homes and it’s clear that one of the single most effective things

Western datebook: “There it is. Take it.”

Native garden with drip

Conventional garden with lawn and sprinklers

In a December article for Chance of Rain, Southern California irrigation specialist Bob Galbreath recalled the arrival of Owens Lake water in Los Angeles from the Eastern Sierra and William Mulholland’s 1913 exhortation, “There it is. Take it!”

Take it we did — with such abandon that a century later our water supply is on the verge of exhaustion. Galbreath, who for two decades has preached abstemiousness in the form of drip irrigation over sprinklers, concluded the article by musing, “Perhaps it would help if I put out a big pile of drip tubing at my next seminar and said: ‘There it is. Take it!'”

Perhaps indeed. To see if he does, go to his talk on January 7th at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, where he is the first guest of the new year in 

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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